company’s reputation at risk, says DiCostanzo.
A few Pedego dealers are experienced entrepreneurs. On the day
Howard Ickes, 77, delivers his presentation at the annual meeting,
he is as charged up as his product. Dressed head to toe in black, his
hair and beard a contrast in snowy white, Ickes ofers tips on getting
the biggest bang from trade shows, fundraisers, and community
events while his audience scribbles away in notebooks. (There is
nary a laptop in sight.)
Ickes, whose handshake could juice an orange, opened his
Pedego store in 2011. That was 10 years after he sold the $18 million
kitchen-appliance distributorship he built from scratch and retired
to travel the world, golf, and fsh, a period during which he felt “like
a caged lion.” Ickes’s store, in Henderson, Nevada, is a laboratory for
the entrepreneur’s ideas, including a simulator rigged to train people
on the bikes and an indoor track for test rides when the weather’s
not cooperating. He knows how to network and market. The sale of
his frst business gives him the wherewithal to pay a frm $1,000 a
month to manage most of his social media.
But for every Howard Ickes among Pedego’s dealers, there are
several former teachers, military personnel, and government
workers newly in business for themselves. First-time entrepreneurs
over 50 have a lower survival rate than their serialist counterparts,
according to Cotei and Farhat. Pedego’s support services were devel-
oped for them. Store owners get help with merchandising and
choosing a location, among other basics. The company also sets
up individual stores’ websites, manages their Google Ad accounts,
and posts to social media for them—or
teaches them how to do it themselves.
“The technology has been a challenge in
some cases, so we will take charge of
that,” says DiCostanzo.
Money is another concern. Entrepreneurs in their 50s have substantially more
startup capital than any other age group—
more than four times as much as the
20-somethings, according to Cotei and
Farhat. Business owners over age 51 are
19 percent more likely to be approved for
credit than their younger counterparts,
according to Biz2Credit.
Yet if Boomer businesses do fail, their
founders have less time to make up
the loss. “When they are thinking about
their fnances, they don’t have time for a
big mistake,” says Michele Markey, vice president of Kaufman
Fast Trac, an entrepreneurship education program that has devel-
oped courses for founders 50 and older.
DiCostanzo and Sherry don’t discuss exit strategies with
Pedego store owners. (A couple of them have turned down
attractive ofers to sell.) But they say the business is set up to
mitigate risk as much as possible. “We make sure their fnancial
resources are in order so we are not putting them in harm’s
way,” says DiCostanzo. The company, which is not a franchiser,
ofers all its support and services to dealers for free and charges
no licensing fee. The only charge for a startup dealer for
Pedego is roughly $50,000 for inventory that,
DiCostanzo says, can typically be liquidated
“WE DON’t thiNk OF thE Dealers as OlD BECausE wE DON’t thiNk OF Ourselves as OlD.”
ON PAGE 94 •
COLONEL, U.S. ARMY (RET.)
Dave Archer, Edwardsville, Ill.
COIN LAUNDROMAT OWNER
Sue Kim, Redondo Beach, Calif.
Bob Bibee, Irvine, Calif.